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SB 550: REGIONAL WATER UTILITY AUTHORITY ACT

An Act Relating To Special Districts; Enacting The Regional Water Utility Authority Act; Providing For The Creation Of Authorities; Providing For A Board Of Directors; Prescribing Powers And Duties Of The Authority And Board; Authorizing Joint Powers Agreements; Providing For Transfer Of Assets And Liabilities; Allowing For Fees, Charges, Rates And Tolls; Authorizing The Issuance Of Revenue Bonds; Providing For Liens And Foreclosures; Allowing Regulation Of Water Use And Domestic Wells; Granting Eminent Domain Power And The Power To Own, Improve And Dispose Of Property; Granting Exclusive Right To Provide Service; Requiring Mandatory Hook-ups To Authority Facilities Within The Service Area Of The Authority; Determining Public Regulation Commission Jurisdiction; Providing For The Investigation Of Violations Of The Regional Water Utility Authority Act; Prescribing Penalties.

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MOD SB 550
REGIONAL WATER UTILITY AUTHORITY ACT

Legislative URL:
SB 550 on nmlegis.gov
Emergency Clause:
No
Germane:
N/A
Location:
SJC
Action:
[6] SCONC/SJC-SCONC [25] DNP-CS/w/o rec-SJC API.
Issue(s):

Related Legislators

Bill Sponsor:

Related Documents

Downloads:
Introduced
SCONC Committee Report
SCONC Committee Substitute
Fiscal Impact Report

Related Events

Upcoming:
Summary

This bill enacts the Regional Water Utility Authority Act providing for the creation of regional water utility authorities for the purposes of:

  • purchasing, acquiring, establishing or constructing waterworks and wastewater systems;
  • planning, developing, managing, maintaining or coordinating regional water and wastewater facilities;
  • infrastructure development of renewable energy projects;
  • implementing storm water management strategies to control flooding, erosion and water pollution; and
  • advancing technologies to reduce solid waste disposal.

 

Two or more entities (political subdivisions, corporate entities or tribal governments that provide water or wastewater services) may organize a regional water utility authority. Each incorporating entity must individually adopt a resolution signifying its intention to organize an authority after a public hearing has been held and notice of the public hearing published at least 30 days prior to the hearing date.

 

An authority has the exclusive right to provide water and wastewater services within the service area served by that authority as long as:

(1)      a person providing water or wastewater services to customers within the authority’s service area as of the date the authority is incorporated may continue to serve those customers; and

(2)      an extension of water or wastewater service by such person that is planned and fully funded as of the date the authority is incorporated and is completed within 18 months of that date shall be excluded from the authority’s service area.

 

The authority’s service area and place of use documents, as approved by the State Engineer, must be filed with the Office of the State Engineer and with the County Clerk in each of the counties within the authority’s service area.

 

The authority’s board may regulate and restrict the use of water within the authority’s service area. The authority has jurisdiction over new domestic water wells within the service area and may, subject to some conditions, restrict the drilling of new domestic water wells. The board has the power to compel the owners of inhabited property within the service area of the authority to connect their property with the water or wastewater system of the authority. Upon failure to connect within 90 days after written notice by the board, the board may cause the connection to be made and a lien to be filed against the property for the expense incurred in making the connection.

 

An authority is subject to the applicable rules of the Department of Environment, and the department may conduct periodic reviews of the operations of an authority and require an authority to submit information to the department.

 

Revenue bonds may be issued by the authority for acquiring real and personal property needed for an authority project, including the purchase of water rights; or for extending, enlarging, bettering, repairing or otherwise improving a water or wastewater project. The bonds authorized by the act and the income from the bonds will be exempt from all taxation by the state or any political subdivision of the state.

 

An authority organized under the provisions of the Regional Water Utility Authority Act is not subject to the jurisdiction of the PRC or the terms and provisions of the Public Utility Act, but the authority may elect by board resolution to become subject to the jurisdiction of the PRC and to the terms and provisions of the Public Utility Act.

 

A potential benefit of this bill might be that it will facilitate enhanced regional water and wastewater systems and infrastructure. Potential concerns might be that, by allowing “corporate entities” to organize a regional water utility authority, the act may facilitate the privatization of water, and that the act gives the authorities broad powers with relatively little regulatory oversight.

 

The Senate Conservation Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 550 is similar to the original, with the addition of a “regional entity” (an entity that has resulted from the merger of two or more entities, the acquisition of an entity by one or more entities or an entity created by a joint powers agreement) as an entity that may organize a regional water utility authority; and the deletion of advancing technologies to reduce solid waste disposal from the list of purposes for which a regional water utility authority may be created.